The use of popular campaign slogans “Boma ni Boma” and “Sonta Epowabomba” has come back to haunt the PF in the election petition which saw Professor Nkandu Luo’s lose her Munali parliamentary seat.
Justice Edward Musona in his judgement stated that the political battle in Munali Constituency Parliamentary elections was not fought on a level ground because Prof. Luo was a Cabinet Minister and abused government resources in her campaigns such as government motor vehicle, government driver, government fuel and other resources attaching to the office of Minister while the other candidates went into that war in their private capacities.
In a damning judgement on the conduct of the PF during the elections, Justice Musona stated that the PF slogan “Boma ni Boma” clearly proves that abuse of government resources and confirms that Professor Luo was in government, she was the Boma.
“F/Nkandu Luo was aware at the material time that she was in the campaigns as a Minister while other candidates did so as ordinary members of the public. There is no dispute that the slogan, “Boma ni Boma” was used in Munali Constituency Parliamentary elections. There is no dispute that the Respondents including the 1st Respondent were aware of this intimidating slogan. This slogan was not only intimidating but was also belittling the other competitors who then were not in government as F/Nkandu Luo was,” part of the judgement read.
Justice Musona said the Petitioner further told this court that the 1st Respondent who was a serving Minister continued to campaign as a Minister Inspecting Government on-going projects using Government transport, Government driver and other Government resources after Parliament was dissolved.
“Among the on-going Government projects which the 1st Respondent is alleged to have inspected during campaigns after Parliament was dissolved are water projects in Kaunda Square Ward, Mtendere Ward and Chainda Ward, and there were also slogans such as “sontapo epowabomba”, which literally means show us where you have worked. The 1st Respondent also held rallies without the police stopping her because she was a serving Minister, this the Petitioner alleges that it worked to the advantage of the 1st Respondent and unfortunately to the disadvantage of the Petitioner. The Petitioner alleged that she was not allowed to hold public meetings (rallies) as the 1st Respondent did. During fighting the 1st Respondent’s party would shout a slogan saying “Boma ni Boma.” What the Petitioner understood by this slogan, and going by what she experienced during those campaigns was to mean that the party for the 1st Respondent was above the law because it was the Political Party in government.”
The judgement reads, “It is not in dispute that Cabinet Ministers of which the 1st Respondent purportedly was are entitled to government motor vehicle, public fuel and public driver. The 1st Respondent herself admitted that she had two government motor vehicles of which one was an official motor vehicle and the other was a personal to holder motor vehicle. She also admitted that she had a government driver. The only dispute is that she used a government motor vehicle and a government driver or other government resources during her campaigns. According to her, she told this court that when going on her campaigns she would park the government motor vehicle at her house and leave the government driver then she would go on her campaigns using her personal motor vehicles namely, a Toyota Noah and a Toyota Regius driven by a non-government driver.”
“The lacuna in her evidence is that I have not seen any government guideline to preclude a Minister from using government resources such as a government motor vehicle during campaigns. Ministers had government resources at their disposal. It was left solely to the Ministers themselves whether or not to avail themselves of those government resources, of which the 1st Respondent denies having used government resources.”
“Truly, the 1st Respondent had her personal motor vehicles, namely, a Toyota Noah and a Toyota Regius which she used during her campaigns but I have seen no evidence to show that she truly did not use a government motor vehicle as well. In the contrast, there is evidence from the Petitioner that the 1st Respondent was seen driven in a government motor vehicle with a Zambian flag flying during campaigns.”
Justice Musonsa said, “The Petitioner testified how she saw the 1st Respondent driven in a government motor vehicle with a Zambian flag on it. Wendy Lwendo Michelo was PW5 who also testified that she once saw the 1st Respondent being driven in a government motor vehicle with a Zambian flag on it, and that there was a Toyota Noah branded in PF colours with a portrait for the 1st Respondent accompanying that government motor vehicle. PW5 described the scene where she saw this as Kaunda Square Stage 2 off Tomstone J38 Road, first turn to your left then the first house on your right. The 1st Respondent was seen distributing PF ‘T’ shirts and PF chitenge materials at that house. I am, therefore, satisfied that these pleadings in the first paragraph of this election petition have been fully proved.”
“The 1st Respondent argued vehemently that she did not use government funds during her campaigns, but admitted that she used her salary which she was paid as a Minister. She called her salary as meagre and that she raised other funds from other sources to supplement her salary and what was paid to her as gratuity. Indeed, that was admission that the salary which she was paid was spent on her campaigns. She was paid that salary as a Minister the office which she held illegally.”
To the extent that she held the office of Minister illegally it follows that even the salaries which accrued to her were paid to her illegally, she was not entitled to that money. Those salaries were government money which she used to fund her campaigns. The only question is to what extent did that salary advantaged the 1st Respondent against the Petitioner?”
“The evidence shows that whereas the 1st Respondent used that salary and supplemented it with other resources from other sources, the Petitioner did not have such a salary. It is therefore true that she used government funds and this affected the Petitioner who had no access to government funds and had to depend solely on her private sources. This ground has been proved.”
Justice Musona also stated that there is evidence that the campaigns in Munali Constituency Parliamentary elections were marred with violence adding that the violence reached a crescendo when on 8th August, 2016 the UPND campaign bus was attacked by PF cadres.
“Apart from saying that she was not at the scene of the attack and that she did not know of that attack, F/Nkandu Luo has not sufficiently shown to court what measures she took in order to cage her supporters and/or agents whose violent conduct had then become a notorious fact even to the 1st Respondent. The brutal attack by PF cadres on UPND supporters which occurred in Mtendere on 8th August, 2016 was capable of influencing the voting pattern in Munali Constituency, this is so because news of that attack was reported in the media thereby spreading throughout Munali Constituency,” the judgement read.
Justice Musona said it then became risky to be associated with UPND especially when it became apparent that the state police officers were not capable of protecting the UPND supporters.
He charged that this was proved when the UPND supporters were attacked on their campaign bus and that the matter was reported to police and one suspect was identified but no action or arrest was taken by state police officers.
On the issue of the Form Gen. 12, Justice Musona ruled that Form Gen. 12 is a legal document and the failure by the Electoral Commission of Zambia to avail and provide this Form Gen. 12 shows not only the unfairness and lack of transparency but also the illegalities surrounding the Munali Constituency Parliamentary Elections.
“Some unfairness, procedural lapses and illegalities which characterized the Munali Constituency Parliamentary Elections could easily have been curtailed by the Electoral Commission of Zambia but did not sufficiently do so. I have found that the Electoral Commission of Zambia failed to conduct transparent, free and fair Parliamentary Elections in Munali Constituency in accordance with their mandate,” the judgement reads.
“The evidence by the Petitioner was that in Munali Constituency the Electoral Commission of Zambia did not provide adequate election material such as Form Gen. 12 and ink. In particular, the Petitioner had to make several photo copies of Form Gen. 12 and distributed them to Chainda Ward, Chakunkula Ward, Mtendere Ward and Kalingalinga Ward including University of Zambia (UNZA)which is in Kalingalinga Ward. By 14.00 hrs on 12th August, 2016 counting of votes had ended yet there was only one (1) Form Gen. 12 there which was with the Presiding Officer. A dispute arose as to which figures should be indicated on that Form Gen. 12. A PF member had different figures and insisted that his figurers should be recorded on Form Gen. 12.”
“This impasse was resolved after a recount of the votes was done. F/Wendi Lwendo Michelo who was PW5 in this case testified that at Kaunda Square Community Hall which is in Munali Ward, PF cadres caused confusion when UPND cadres demanded to have Form Gen. 12. According to PW5, the situation was calmed when state police officers who were present requested the PF cadres to leave the polling station. The allegation concerning lack of or the inadequacy of Form Gen. 12 did not affect the Petitioner alone. Suffice to state that it affected all the participants in that Parliamentary race.”
“This issue, however, is an important matter in the conduct of elections and in the spirit of promoting transparency and building confidence in the electoral system. It is important because Form Gen. 12 is a document for the Electoral Commission of Zambia which is used in an election at polling stations to record election results both in figures and in words. The design of Form Gen 12 shows that polling agents should append their names in full and signature at the back of that Form Gen. 12. Even if the use of Form Gen 12 is not couched in mandatory terms, when a dispute of this magnitude arises, compliance as to the way it is supposed to be filled in becomes a necessity. I have seen Form Gen. 12 for each polling station in Munali Constituency. Some of those Form Gen. 12 are not signed at the back. I have seen no reason why Form Gen. 12 for all the 14 polling stations were not signed by polling agents. This was despite the fact that the Petitioner wanted Form Gen 12 to be availed by the Electoral Commission of Zambia in order to record the election results thereon and also counter sign the same.”